Posts Tagged ‘networks’

Symphony Brushes Off Netflix Attacks on Its Ratings Metrics

January 19, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If Netflix was hoping to intimidate Symphony Advanced Media into submission when it blasted the company's data —which, for the first time, revealed how many viewers are watching Netflix's original series —it is going to have to switch to Plan B. Symphony Advanced Media told Adweek today it is standing by its metrics, which Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos derided as "remarkably inaccurate data" that "doesn't reflect any sense of reality of anything that we keep track of." Despite Sarandos' scoffing, "we have confidence in our data," said Laura Bernstein, Symphony's svp of client solutions. She said that Symphony's multiplatform measurement tool, VideoPulse, also measures broadcast and cable programming, and the company's partners and clients—which include NBCUniversal, A+E Networks and Viacom—have said Symphony's numbers echo the data they receive from other ratings sources like Nielsen. "There's some variation—there's different methodologies to data collection—but for the most part, we're very in line with other published numbers and with what our clients would expect. So our methodology is where people would want it to be on the broadcast and cable, where there is a comparison, which gives us a lot of confidence in what we're seeing in the streaming originals," said Bernstein. NBC kickstarted Symphony's battle with Netflix last Wednesday, when NBCUniversal's ratings guru Alan Wurtzel shared Symphony's Netflix data with reporters during the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. Wurtzel claimed Netflix doesn't yet pose a "consistent" threat to broadcasters. To make his point, Wurtzel incorporated data from Symphony Advanced Media, which has been tracking Netflix ratings metrics for the notoriously tight-lipped streaming service with VideoPulse, the multiplatform measurement tool Symphony unveiled last September . (Symphony does that by using automatic content recognition, or ACR, software embedded on a mobile app to recognize and match a program's audio files, as well as URL matches for streamed content. The company also sends a targeted survey to its panelists twice a week, asking which platform they watched specific programs on, to determine whether a show like Quantico was viewed via Hulu, VOD, ABC.com or DVR.) Among the Symphony data that Wurtzel shared: Each episode of Marvel's Jessica Jones averaged 4.8 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic within 35 days of its November premiere. Master of None drew 3.9 million in the demo and Narcos was third with 3.2 million. Sarandos returned fire on Sunday, blasting Symphony's methodology and data. "It's a bold statement for them to make," said Bernstein of the company's response. "We've never had a conversation with Netflix, so I'm not even familiar with what they know of our methodology." And while Sarandos argued that the 18-49 demo "means nothing" to Netflix, Symphony counters that the demographic is in fact incredibly important to the industry. "It's the demo that matters to the people who are selling advertising, so I do think that makes it an important demo," she said.

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Why Univision Just Bought a Fake News Website

January 19, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

In news that could have been straight out of The Onion itself, Univision has purchased a stake in the satirical news outlet. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The top Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S. has bought as much as a 40 percent stake in The Onion Inc., the parent company of The Onion, StarWipe, ClickHole and (real) pop culture site The A.V. Club, with the option to buy it outright. The company will continue to operate independently in Chicago. "Comedy is playing an expanding role in our culture as a vehicle for audiences to explore, debate, and understand the important ideas of our time," said Isaac Lee, chief news and digital Officer of Univision and CEO of Fusion. "It has also proven to be an incredibly engaging format for millennial audiences, and is expected to play a key part in the 2016 presidential election process via our robust content offerings in Spanish and English." While on the surface it appears odd that a long-time trusted real news outlet would buy a fake news website, The Onion has been able to court a young, millennial audience, reaching about 25 million unique visitors each month. The company has also created a successful branded content wing , Onion Labs, which accounts for the majority of its revenue. And with the political season upon us–Hispanic voters are among the most sought-after demographic by candidates–The Onion has been hitting both sides of the aisle hard with articles like Rubio Refutes Claim He Soft On Immigration By Dragging Undocumented Worker He Knocked Out Cold Onto Stage and Out-Of-Control Hand Gesture Sends Bernie Sanders Tumbling Off Stage. With their audience on television skewing older–rival Spanish broadcaster Telemundo has been gaining steam among the younger demo–Univision has attempted to broaden its scope. Its partnership with Disney on the television network Fusion has made little if any dent in the marketplace; Disney is reportedly looking to sell its stake. This also follows Univision's acquisition of African American-themed website The Root last year, as the company looks to finally launch its much-delayed IPO.

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How Showtime Is Marketing Its New Drama ‘Billions’ to Wall Street

January 4, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

While HBO got the mafia to pay attention to The Sopranos, and AMC played up Mad Men to the agency world, Showtime is taking its new show Billions to the bank—and the bankers and financiers on Wall Street and beyond. "People love to see themselves, good or bad, depicted in popular entertainment," said Showtime's evp and CMO Don Buckley. "I remember reading quotes years ago about how the mob loved to watch The Sopranos." The drama stars Damian Lewis as hedge fund mogul Bobby Axelrod and Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades, the U.S. attorney who tries to bring him down. Malin Akerman and Maggie Siff star as their wives, respectively. Andrew Ross Sorkin, financial reporter for The New York Times and co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk Box, is an executive producer

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Q&A: Downton Abbey’s Executive Producer on the Final Season and the Odds of a Movie

December 21, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When Downton Abbey returns next month, the top-rated PBS drama of all time and U.S. television's most successful British import will cap its extraordinary run with a much buzzed about sixth and final season. Adweek caught up with Downton Abbey executive producer Gareth Neame, who offers a few (cryptic) hints about what viewers can expect from the show's farewell season. Adweek: How receptive were television executives when you first pitched the show? Gareth Neame: A British producer once told me no one in Hollywood would be interested in the show when I was trying to finance it. I was told nobody in the United States will ever be interested in this idea.

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With a Record 409 Scripted Series in 2015, Did TV Reach Its Peak?

December 16, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

"Peak TV" has a name, and now it has a number: 409. That's how many scripted series (drama, comedy and limited) aired on all broadcast, cable, streaming and OTT services in 2015, according to Julie Piepenkotter, evp of research for FX Networks. (Excluded from the tally: reality, news, sports, made-for-television movies, specials, daytime and children's programming.) Even if you binge-watched one scripted season every day of the year, you wouldn't be able to get through all the available content. "The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years," said Piepenkotter in a statement. "This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform—broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming—led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services. This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago." The number represents a 9 percent increase over 2014, which had 376 scripted series, and a staggering 94 percent jump since 2009 (211)

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A+E Networks Shows To Be Hosted on Hulu Japan

December 16, 2015  |  Variety  |  No Comments

A large slate of programming from A+E Networks will be made available on Hulu Japan.

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Nexstar Says Acquisition Talks With Media General Have ‘Reached an Impasse’

December 9, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

In September, Nexstar Broadcasting Group gleefully played party crasher when it tried to scuttle Media General's $2.4 billion merger with Meredith Corp . by making an unsolicited $4.1 billion offer for the former. But today Nexstar lost a bit of swagger, announcing it has "reached an impasse" in its negotiations with the Richmond, Va.-based media company. Media General's board of directors rejected Nexstar's revised proposal, valued at $16.31 per Media General share, up from its initial $14.50-per-share offer. Nexstar said the Media General board countered with an "unreasonable" $18.61 share price. "The response from Media General is disappointing," said Nexstar chairman and CEO Perry Sook in a statement. "As a disciplined acquirer, we will only consummate a transaction that makes sense for both companies' shareholders." Irving, Tex.-based Nexstar has built up a portfolio of more than 100 TV stations across the country. It made its unsolicited $4.1 billion offer in September, a few weeks after Media General announced a $2.4 billion merger with Meredith, which owns 16 TV stations but may be best known as a publisher of storied magazine titles including Better Homes and Gardens, Shape, Parents, Family Circle, and More.

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ATF: ‘Lip Sync Battle’ Strikes The Right Notes Across Asia (EXCLUSIVE)

December 3, 2015  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Viacom International Media Networks has struck a deal with the Philippines GMA for American format “Lip Sync Battle.”

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How Superproducer Greg Berlanti Juggles 6 (and Counting) TV Shows

November 29, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Anybody who thinks broadcast television is dying obviously hasn't met Greg Berlanti , the talented and prolific writer and superproducer behind this fall's two biggest freshman series among viewers 18-49. First, there's NBC's Blindspot , which the network has already renewed for a second season. Then, there's Supergirl on CBS, Berlanti's third superhero series along with the CW's The Flash (that network's most-watched show ever) and Arrow. (A fourth superhero project, the Flash/Arrow spinoff DC's Legends of Tomorrow, will debut Jan. 21.) As if that weren't enough on his plate, he's also got The Mysteries of Laura, NBC's sole freshman series from last season to make it to a second year. Berlanti, Adweek's TV Producer of the Year, never intended to oversee six TV shows at once (he serves as co-showrunner on the four superhero series and is executive producer of Blindspot and Laura). "It's a combination of a lot of past relationships coming to fruition—and, as always in this business, luck," says Berlanti, who delegates many duties to key allies like Sarah Schechter, who runs his production company, but maintains strict control over each show's essential elements. "I find I can affect the quality of an episode if I focus on the things that I've always enjoyed the most: What are the stories, who's acting in them and the finished cut," he says. Juggling six TV shows requires "a lot of time management," notes Berlanti, who begins every day writing scripts ("My morning time is my most creative," he relates) before transitioning to making notes on other writers' scripts and "breaking" story arcs for upcoming episodes. After that, he shifts his attention to casting and budget matters, before ending the day in the editing room "because I don't have to use my brain in quite the same way," he says. "It's more reactive than trying to generate something." Berlanti employs the same mantra for all his projects: "Heart. Humor. Spectacle." "My favorite episodes of TV as a viewer, and certainly as a writer or producer, have those elements," he explains. "The humor keeps the episodes enjoyable and reminds you that not everything has to be deadly serious. Heart is something that I've always led with when I've written, or responded to in other people's stories. And the spectacle can be the emotional spectacle, or it can be the visual effects and action of it all." The producer, who previously worked on the WB's Dawson's Creek and Everwood and ABC's Brothers and Sisters, continues to create smashes for broadcast television even as many of his writer-producer peers have turned to cable channels and streaming sites. "To me, there's still nothing more thrilling than, every week, people getting to see another chapter in this story that you're telling," says Berlanti, who recently extended his lucrative TV deal with Warner Bros. through 2020. Berlanti's phenomenal success seems to surprise him as much as anyone.

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Bonnie Hammer Is Shaking Up Her NBCU Cable Portfolio, One Network at a Time

November 29, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Throughout her legendary career, Bonnie Hammer has learned just about everything there is to know about the television industry, except for one thing: how to rest on her laurels. "If you're not always thinking about the storms that are about to come, you're going to be in big trouble," she says. "I've never been afraid of change." That's why the chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group and Adweek's TV Executive of the Year has spent the past year shaking up the 10 networks she oversees—including heavyweights USA, Bravo and E!—keeping them fresh, exciting and relevant for audiences in a turbulent TV landscape. "It's taking a look at every piece of the organization, almost from a zero base," says Hammer. "If we were designing a world to compete in today, not last year or 10 years ago, how would you do that?" Last fall, Hammer combined Bravo, Oxygen, E! and the upstart Esquire Network into the Lifestyle Networks Group, unifying the brands in the same fashion NBCU ad sales chairman Linda Yaccarino sells them to advertisers. "Every single channel was a silo. With one overall voice, it made it neater, cleaner and more nimble in terms of everything from sales to early-stage development," explains Hammer of the reorg, which helped inspire similar ones at rival players like Viacom and A+E Networks. Hammer pushed several NBCU cable properties to launch scripted series for the first time (Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce and Odd Mom Out on Bravo, The Royals on E!, Spotless on Esquire), helping to diversify and fortify the nets when and if franchises like the Real Housewives and the Kardashians run out of steam. ("We keep waiting for the day—and it doesn't happen," notes Hammer.) Significantly, the new scripted projects add a vital new stream of revenue for the company. "What scripted provides that reality hasn't yet, and probably won't, is back end. If you can own content that has a nice, long tail, that is a moderate to amazing hit, it's money in the bank—it's just good business," explains Hammer, who also runs the in-house studios Universal Cable Productions (which handles scripted shows) and Wilshire Studios (reality and unscripted). Hammer's riskiest move involved the crown jewel of her portfolio, USA, moving the network away from its signature "blue skies" procedurals, which were no longer connecting with audiences. "We wanted to nail something in the zeitgeist," she says. "And that's where Mr. Robot came." This summer's sensational hacker drama was, at the outset, anything but a sure thing, but Hammer went forward with the gamble. "We all said, 'This could fail big. We all have to agree that this is an experiment, but we're willing to do it,'" recalls Hammer. Mr. Robot would end up taking viewers by storm, helping USA finish its 10th year as the most-watched entertainment network in prime time on basic cable. As for properties in her stable that remain a work in progress—like Oxygen, which is still struggling to connect with its 20-something female viewer base—Hammer is considering all options, including a possible OTT play

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